March 16, 2023 (Washington D.C.) – This week, the Sikh Coalition submitted new draft policy recommendations to the federal agency in which the Border Patrol is housed, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), detailing the necessary steps required to protect the religious rights of Sikhs and other religious minorities during search and seizure.
Since August 2022, when media first reported Sikh migrants having their dastaars seized and thrown away by Border Patrol agents along the Yuma, Arizona border, the Sikh Coalition has worked closely with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona (ACLU-AZ) to lead a multi-pronged advocacy effort to hold CBP and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) accountable for violating the rights of Sikh migrants. We worked together to implement solutions that will put an end to the disrespectful treatment of religious articles of faith.
“The work required to ensure that no Sikh migrant has their religious articles of faith violated ever again remains an ongoing process,” said Sim J. Singh Attariwala, Sikh Coalition Senior Policy & Advocacy Manager. “However, it indicates progress that we have not received new reports of Sikh articles of faith being trashed at the Yuma border in months, as we continue to work in good faith with CBP officials to codify improved new policies so that it will be much harder for this to happen again.”
The Sikh Coalition continues to monitor and engage in the two ongoing government investigations into the CBP violations that occurred at the Yuma border last August. Meanwhile, the Sikh Coalition continues to participate and facilitate meetings with government officials, subject matter experts, and other impacted community organizations to advocate for permanent policy changes.
The Sikh Coalition remains grateful to our allies at the ACLU and the ACLU-AZ for their stewardship and legal expertise in this area of the law, as well as other partner organizations like Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), Hindus for Human Rights, Muslim Advocates, and Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), who have worked with us to provide policy feedback and recommendations. We will continue to provide updates on this important work as we are able to share more details publicly.
Reporting violations along the border remains critical. If you know of someone who has experienced discrimination or had their religious rights violated in the course of interactions with Border Patrol agents, please reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, the Sikh Coalition encourages you to practice your faith fearlessly.